Church of Quantum Suicide, The
The Church of Quantum Suicide is found in the Serpens Region, on Tegmark's World, one of the worlds that was isolated for many centuries following the Version War. Tegmark's World developed an unusual culture during this period of isolation, which included many spiritual beliefs based on (often poorly-understood) quantum phenomena. A widespread belief in telepathy based on quantum entanglement is one example, and another is the emergence of the Church of Quantum Suicide. This was initially intended to be a way of maintaining zero population growth among the nearbaseline-human colonists, once the isolated colony had reached a level of population that was deemed to be optimal.
To enable a child to be born, another person had to volunteer to die. Each volunteer entered a vapourisation chamber controlled by a random radioactive decay event. A small number of volunteers were allowed to survive, and became rich and famous. The other volunteers became gas. The particular interpretation of quantum mechanics that was popular on this world, a variant of the Many-Worlds interpretation, states that every person who goes into the vapour chamber would survive in a universe where they are rich and famous. The Church of Quantum Suicide made a central tenet of their belief that any thinking being can only experience a reality in which they exist, so they can never experience a reality where they are destroyed. For this reason the Church ensured that the vapourisation process was effectively instantaneous, so that the vapourised individual did not experience eir demise.
Once Tegmark's World was re-contacted in the late ComEmp period the Church of Quantum Suicide became a historical oddity, although it was revived as a fringe cult in the STC volume briefly in the Age of New Empires, partly as a reaction against NeoHermeticism.
Criticism Many commentators point out that the 'measure' of existence of a suicide volunteer would be severely reduced since they exist in fewer worlds and would be unlikely to subjectively experience survival. Most ideologies condemn the CoQS, since it only works if (a) MWI is true, (b) existing in fewer worlds/reduced measure is not important, and (c) worlds where some other outcome occurs are ignored (such as the vaporiser malfunctioning and merely injuring the volunteer). Even the somewhat similar Ipsemists condemn the CoQS for unnecessarily ejecting the volunteer into uncertainty as well as the negative externalities like the grief of friends and relatives left behind.
Text by Steve Bowers, from an idea by Hans Moravec
additional material by ProxCenBound
Initially published on 31 December 2007.